You’ve met his friends; he’s met yours. Now it’s time to add fruity cocktails and mix. Short of introducing your parents to his, combining your two sets of friends—especially if they exist in very different worlds—is one of the most nerve-wracking milestones in a relationship. And since summertime is party time, it’s probably going to happen in the next month or so. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure it’s not a complete disaster.
- If you sense impending conflict, give a heads-up. If, say, his friends are hedge-funders, while yours run more to the social worker side, let slip to both sides that there’ll be no talking politics. If arguments (or worse) erupt, be ready with the Supersoaker. Or you could make sure there’s a baby pool filled with Jell-O and have them take their dispute there. Who can hate with a face full of blue ooze?
- Even if you know your friend Aileen would be perfect for his buddy Fredo, refrain from the fix-up. I know it’s tempting, but unless you’ve run a background check on the guy, resist. First of all, it could blow up in your face when they move in together and the guy who used to be your boyfriend’s poker buddy turns out to be a philandering cheapskate. (Don’t ask.) Even if your friend doesn’t blame you, you’ll always feel responsible for leading her there. Instead, supply the introduction and walk away. Quickly.
- Don’t force the fun. Nothing kills the party quicker than a host who’s part drill-sergeant, part mommy. So, no berating the non-dancers or forcing shy people to talk. No pushing drinks (you never know who’s in the program) and for the love of all that is festive, please, no party games. Why do you think everyone hates baby showers?
- Everyone has a couple leg-humpy pals in their social circle, so in the interest of keeping the peace, try to steer the slutty types towards each other and away from established couples. I had a situation where one of my man’s leg-humpier guy buddies was hitting on a gay friend who was there with her girlfriend. My friend was obviously getting offended so I took him aside, told him the deal and warned him to knock it off. Unfortunately, the lesbian revelation had the opposite effect (caveman!), but with three of us baring our claws and giving the stink-eye, he backed off quickly.
- Surely you’ve heard of Beer Goggles. Well, summer is the season of the fruity cocktail and it’s even easier to get completely wasted when you’re drinking something that tastes like Hawaiian Punch but contains four different types of booze. So make sure there’s some sort of food there to keep your guests upright and their judgment at least somewhat unimpaired. Naturally, you’re not the boss of your buddies, but if you see someone about to make a grave mistake—like drive drunk or go home with your married boss—step in. They might be angry in the short term, but at least you’ll know you did the right thing.
- Don’t be bummed if the two groups don’t especially like each other. It took you and your significant other a long time to collect a circle of friends, so it’s impractical to think that everyone’s going to mesh seamlessly. As long as there’s no name-calling or drink-throwing, you can count your party a success.
- Don’t throw the party at your house. Pick a bar, a park … anywhere but where you sleep. This way if everyone overrules your rules and the whole thing breaks out into mayhem, you and your man friend can just slip out the back, turn off your phones, and pretend it never happened.
Got any other tips from personal experience? Share ‘em in the comments!